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  • The movie did draw in sizeable audiences in the Philippines although most of those who saw it were disappointed including the critics. I remember one shallow critic lamenting the baring of Elizabeth Taylor in one fleeting scene (rear view). He wished she had done it in her earlier years when she would have been more attractive. I must admit that at my age then of 17, she did look a bit too mature for me. But seeing her again on video with me pushing 50, I found that she looks great.

    I not only saw the movie, I acted in our school play albeit in a small role as one of the scholars who spoke with Faustus. Alas! the play did not open as our director resigned after he couldn't pull off the open arena presentation he envisioned. Blocking was such a problem.

    Seriously, the cinematic effects achieved by Burton who was both actor and director, deserve kudos considering the technical limitations of special effects at the time (1967). A striking scene was when he and Mephistopheles were walking in the night heavens discussing hell. They didn't look superimposed at all and on the full screen, with the two figures seeming to walk on the bottom of the frame across the blue black firmament among the stars, it gave one a feeling of both wonder and terror of being lost in the heavens. Looking back, it seems that Burton pioneered in achieving a surreal LSD effect which later became quite common.

    The lines of Mephistopheles describing the nature of hell is memorable. I quote him freely: "Think you not that I who had experienced the Beatific Presence am not constantly tortured since I have been deprived of it? Hell is where we (the devils) are and where hell is, there we are, for each of us carry our own hell." This would apply to humans and not only to devils.

    The Oxford players were great especially the actor who played Mephistopheles who was portrayed sympathetically in that he seemed to regret the Faust's loss of his immortal soul. The devil was shown weeping.
  • Thank God, Richard Burton did this film. A man who was unjustly considered a sell-out, he did this first on stage and then for film with all profits of both productions going to Oxford. Yes, it's cheaply designed and theatrical, with an distracting music score...but when else will you see a film of Marlowe's play with an actor as great playing the part?

    I realize the film has its shortcomings, but its virtues are also plainly evident. Those who dismiss it a just a bad film strike me as a bunch of gluttonous clods or anti-intellectual pismires. It's a movie to cherish.
  • skallisjr7 November 2005
    Shortly after I picked up a copy of Marlowe's play, I spotted the film in a video store. Having read the play first, I wondered how the film would portray it.

    It did pretty well. The film apparently wasn't a high-budget item, but it conveyed the essence of the play. And, as important, it used the basic Marlowe play. That adds a touch that a more "modernized" film wouldn't have. In that, it shares a legacy found in many Shakespearean films.

    The Faust story is well enough known so that there are no plot twist surprises. It may not be for everyone, but it's worth a view. Richard Burton makes a fairly believable Faust.
  • Cerebral and altogether too-literal transcript of Christopher Marlowe’s venerable play – the end result is opulent yet claustrophobic, not to mention dull.

    Burton the producer/director certainly made inspired choices for his collaborators – production designer John De Cuir, cinematographer Gabor Pogany, composer Mario Nascimbene. Burton the actor, then, is riveting as always (particularly the monologue towards the end) – but real-life spouse Elizabeth Taylor is simply ludicrous as Faustus’ object of desire (in various disguises including Helen of Troy)! The remaining cast is largely made up of Oxford University drama students (the University itself, of which Burton was a former graduate, partly financed the film!): of these, only Andreas Teuber’s bald-headed, monk-clad Mephistopheles manages a striking performance.

    The “Mondo Digital” review had likened this to the cult horror films made by Hammer, Roger Corman and Mario Bava: judging by the campy Papal sequence (with a host of fey clergymen on whom Faustus plays childish pranks) and an equally tacky conjuring act before a medieval court, I’d say that Burton and Coghill probably drew more on the decadent work of Federico Fellini or Pier Paolo Pasolini than anything else! Anyway, the experimental nature of the film extends to the baffling over-use of a pointless ‘foggy’ effect; its depiction of lust, however, emerges as traditionally naïve – with frolicking satyrs in a garden setting and decorous female nudity (including Taylor herself for one very brief moment).

    Ulimately, DOCTOR FAUSTUS is to be considered an interesting failure – a personal tour-de-force for Burton but which, perhaps, needed a steadier hand…say, Joseph Losey (with whom the two stars would soon work on BOOM! [1968], curiously enough, a similar and equally maligned blend of fantasy and theatricality).
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I'll admit from the beginning that Marlowe's Tragical History of Doctor Faustus is one of my alltime favorite plays, and that I used to have it virtually memorized. The play is itself so good that any relatively true adaptation to the screen would make a thoughtful and enjoyable film.

    I am old enough to remember the tabloid brouhaha about Burton and Taylor, but even that unpleasantness is insufficient to intrude upon my complete enjoyment of this film. The dialogue is over 400 years old, requiring careful listening by the viewer who is unfamiliar with the play, but that viewer will be well rewarded for his attention. The dialogue is so rich with meaning, with philosophical nuance, with the heights and depths of human emotion that the attentive viewer cannot help but think about the meaning of his actions and the consequences of them, as well. This Doctor Faustus is a fleshed out (and fleshly) genius not unlike some of those we might encounter today. The scene in which Faustus knows for certain that all that, for which he has sold his soul, is illusion; yet he still cannot bring himself to renounce it all, and redeem himself, strikes at the souls of all of us. As Don Blanding wrote about his imagined painting entitled "Sin!" I love while I loathe the beastly thing. I guess that's the way one feels about sin."
  • mermatt17 September 2000
    Marlow's play about the man who sold his soul to the devil for 27 years of pleasure is not the most cheerful of topics. But the horror element is well-played in this classy production with Burton as the title character and Liz Taylor as Helen of Troy, the "face that launched a thousand ships."

    Mario Nascimbene's spooky score gives an appropriately dark mood to this great masterpiece of a story.
  • It was an ambitious undertaking for Richard Burton, to film Christopher Marlowe's classic Dr. Faustus with an untried amateur cast. I'd say he got a mixed bag of results.

    Well, they weren't all that amateur, they were the members of the Oxford Dramatic Society and quite a number of them went on to have substantial careers in film and theater. Fans of the Doctor Who series will recognize Ian Marter who played Harry Sullivan during the Tom Baker reign as the Doctor, he's probably the most well known of the cast.

    Of course there's Elizabeth Taylor who plays the brief part of Helen of Troy who in legend is ultimate in feminine beauty. She has no dialog, but she makes her presence known.

    Faustus, a man who devotes his entire life to the pursuit of knowledge and somehow feels he's left a lot out of his life. Piety and service to God ain't cutting it any more. He makes a deal with Lucifer himself and even gets one of the fallen angels, Mephistopheles to act as a personal servant and conveyor of Faustus's wishes to the Prince of Darkness.

    Of course he gets what he wants, but there's a day of reckoning and Faustus just simply doesn't want to cough up the soul. What do you expect from a guy who constantly refers to himself in the third person? Faustus is rather full of himself.

    From what little research I did, Richard Burton made a concerted effort in this film to perform it close to Marlowe's own vision. There seems to be a few versions of this out there and it's all open to speculation.

    It was an ambitious undertaking, not entirely successful, but not a total failure either. And Elizabeth Taylor looks pretty good in it.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    SPOILERS

    Burton and Coghill's adaptation of Marlowe's last, and perhaps most famous play, is a garish mixture of camp and culture, and deserves to be better known. Although there are two other filmed versions, neither Svankmajer (1994) or Murnau (1927) utilise the Marlovian text, which is often as distinctive, and as great, as the playwright's more frequently filmed contemporary Shakespeare. Coghill has reduced the content to the essentials, stripped out a lot of the original bawdiness, done some modernising, and has even borrowed the occasional line from another play to make the project more accessible to the general viewer. The result is bizarre and compulsive at the same time, a film entirely characteristic of the time.

    Marlowe's morality tale tells the story of the German scholar and conjurer, Faustus, who abjures philosophy, learning, and religion to sell his soul to the devil in return for 27 years of youth and pleasure. During the time of this blood-sealed pact on earth, he has Mephistopheles as his servant. The lustful and arrogant Faust indulges his earthly appetites, sees the seven deadly sins, performs magic for the emperor, and has fun whilst invisible at the expense of the Pope, before being dragged down to hell at the hour of reckoning.

    None of this would seem out of place if reworked in a Hammer horror film, and memories of the Bray studio's sensibilities duly spring to mind as the film unfolds. Entirely set-bound, the film has a claustrophobic feel, entirely in keeping with Fausts' self-centredness. As he experiences the diabolic freedom to indulge himself it is a delusion, as at the same time he is by necessity trapped and inevitably condemned to hellfire. The rooms he moves in are artificially cluttered, full of garish colours, skulls, books, furniture and costumes. The trappings of the world impinge upon the viewer, constantly emphasising just how transient it all is.

    Unfortunately for this adaption, matters are thrown off balance by the casting. A busty Elizabeth Taylor, appears as Helen of Troy, the continuous source of Faust's lust and fantasy (‘The face that launched a thousand ships'), mute throughout. While the decision to maximise the presence of this star is understandable, her overexposure tends to push the matter of damnation into the background, reducing Faustus' longing for material fulfilment to that of a school boyish crush. The rest of the cast, drawn from the Oxford Dramatic society, is overshadowed by Burton and Taylor, whose stellar status tells in every scene.

    One or two unintentionally ludicrous aspects do not help matters of dramatic gravity, but have their own appeal. For much of the first act, before he is damned and made young again, Burton wears a thick pair of black glasses, presumably to emphasise his learning. While these also allow for some interesting photographic effects, his comic aspect is distracting. Further on, Faustus is confronted by three of the deadly sins at once, who appear as knights. Those like myself who treasure the Knights Who Go Neh! from ‘Monty Python's Life of Brian' can savour this moment in a way completely unintended. In contrast, when Faustus plays farting tricks at the Pope's court further on, Burton seems ill at ease at the light footed and earthy humour required. As a tragedian he was a famous Hamlet, and would have made a marvellous Tamburlaine (Marlowe's grandest tragic hero). The scholar-magician Faustus by contrast, who spouts Latin off the cuff and has studied all knowledge, requires a different presence. Burton's rich delivery of lines cannot ultimately overcome this basic issue of miscasting. Occasionally, (as in the great ‘Christ's blood streaming in the firmament' speech) and in some of the grander soliloquies, he makes himself felt. Otherwise one yearns for an actor like Nichol Williamson (a notable Merlin in Boorman's ‘Excalibur'), at his prime at this time, to be in the role.

    Actors aside, the film boasts an evocative score by the prolific Maro Nascimbene, who also did fine work on Hammer's ‘One Million Years BC' (1966) around the same time as well as ‘Barabbas' (1962). As already mentioned, Gábor Pogány's cinematography is also a stand out, which captures exactly the peculiarly hallucinogenic nature of Faustus' incantations, spells and visions. Optical tricks and double exposure abound and are generally well conceived and carried out. Having said that, there is no sense of horror in Faustus' fate or in his eventual descent into a small scale hell. This is partly to do with budget of course, but one is tempted to make unflattering comparisons with other representations, such as in ‘Dante's Inferno' (1935) - which achieved a greater sense of awe of damnation, in black and white, and with fewer camera tricks, almost thirty five years before.

    But there's much entertainment to be had from the film, representing a colourful attempt to translate one of the greatest plays of the day to the screen. Those who enjoy the contemporary horror product will find it a change and lovers of serious drama will be intrigued too, even if ultimately there's rather less cinematic magic than one might have hoped for.
  • Richard Burton co-produced, co-directed, and stars in this adaptation of Christopher Marlowe's play "The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus", concerning an aged 16th century German scholar who conjures up Mephistopheles, servant to Lucifer. Despite a warring of conscience in which saints and demons both attempt to sway Faustus to their side, the conflicted doctor signs his soul over to the Devil in exchange for lust and power, quickly discovering the black magic not living up to its promise. Marlowe's poetry, like subterranean Shakespeare, seems to flow naturally from Burton, and the combination of soliloquy and performance is a lively one. The art direction, production design, and cinematography are all first-rate, with pop-art colors insanely, imaginatively blended together like bewitched Jell-O powder. Elizabeth Taylor's intermittent (and mostly silent) entrances and exits as Helen of Troy probably do the picture more harm than good, but Burton is in fine form (after an unsure start) and Andreas Teuber cuts a striking figure as the Devil's Aid. The film has the same late-'60s, hallucinogenic quality of the other-worldly "Barbarella" (and no wonder: both pictures were made in Rome under the auspices of movie mogul Dino de Laurentiis). You can't take your eyes off "Doctor Faustus"--and, for fear of missing anything, you wouldn't want to. **1/2 from ****
  • I have been intrigue by the legend of Dr. Faustus, the man who sell his very soul to the devil himself for knowledge and lust; after much research on the web. I have watched this film based on the play by Christopher Marlowe (a playwright who lived in the same time as Shakespeare) and it was AWESOME! I love Elizabeth Taylor and I have a few of her films. But I had gotten confuse whether it's a horror film or dramatic film? Of course the film's horrific images of Hell and that gross corpse cover with maggots when Dr. Faustus practiced necromancy (the magical art of bringing the dead to life) makes it a horror film.

    I was shocked by the negative reviews I would see on the web, I thought it was an excellent horror film. You know on the scene where Dr. Faustus sees the Seven Deadly Sins, I think the guy that played Lechery/Lust is very hot (*drool*). But they left out Gluttony & Sloth, well DUH! the film is 92 minutes.
  • I especially liked the film because, unlike so many re-makes of Shakespeare's works, here Marlowe's writing shines through almost untouched by later hands. As far as I know, this is the only one of Marlowe's plays that has made it to the screen, and the film is very true to the play itself. The language is authentic, the special effects understated, and the use of drama students in the secondary roles gives, to my mind, a freshness that a star-studded production would have lacked.

    If you are a fan of Renaissance theatre, you owe it to yourself to see Doctor Faustus.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    you'll love this movie. Actually it was written by Christopher Marlowe a rival/friend of William Shakesphere. I first saw this film in English lit class when my teacher used this as an entertaining visual aid. I had always loved the Shakesphere plays...the lyrical poetry, the thoughtful plots and imagery. SPOILER---Richard Burton, who is an accomplished Shakespherian actor plays the role of Faustus with a moody, thoughtful & devilish character. Faust is a man who wants to reach heights above God and have "his cake and eat it too" In the end, due to his ignorance,sloth and pride he pays the supreme price by selling his soul by thinking he can outwit the devil. Liz Taylor, who oddly has no spoken lines in the movie,and parades around in various body paint at certain parts is STUNNINGLY BEAUTIFUL!! and is the most remembered character. The budget of the film is low, but it still gives off a nightmarish, dark moody atmosphere. Except for Burton and Taylor, it is a cast of unknowns and I find it a crying shame that most did not pursue future movie careers! I recommend this movie to lovers of the Elizabethean Theatre--two thumbs up!
  • One thing about Richard Burton...the movies he makes are never mediocre. They are either very good or very bad.

    I'm not sure on which end that Doctor Faustus falls. It wasn't exactly what I expected...Burton's adaptation of Christopher Marlowe's play on the legend of Faust. The sets and much of the cinematography is masterful...the problem is the script, which is done completely in Old English and in virtual iambic pentameter, which makes it very hard for the average person to understand.
  • Though by its very nature it's quite stagey, the bizarre psychedelic effects downright intrinsic of the period add to the charm of this intriguing work. Even crap films such as 'Exorcist II: The Heretic' can't be dismissed because of Richard Burton's outstanding persona. Elizabeth Taylor's appearance can't be considered sheer waste because her beauty and je ne sais pas make this tale of someone willing to give up his very soul for the woman he loves completely believable. In the director's chair for once as well, even though he is helped, he does a resolutely credible job, nothing to be embarrassed about. Definitely worth one's time for the adventurous cinephiles out there.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    ***SPOILERS*** A bit hard to follow due to the outdated Elizabethan English in it's screenplay but a joy to watch in Rchard Burton's over the top acting Doctor Faustus is without a doubt the most interesting Burton/Taylor collaboration even suppressing their Academy Award winning soap opera "Who' Afraid of Virginia Wolf" the year before.

    Wise old Doctor Faustus, Richard Burton, has seen and done it all in the world of academics reaching the very heights of success by being named #1 at the prestigious center of learning the famed Wittengerg University in 16th century Germany. Dabbling in the black arts that could very well have him burnt at the stake for being a witch or warlock by the church the old Doc want's to find out if in fact the Devil who's called Lucifer in the movie, played by Oxford student David McIntosh, is really fact or fiction. Using his knowledge of the occult from a number of forbidden books, by the church, that he secretly obtained Doc. Faustus conjures up Lucifer's right hand man and #1 messenger Mephistophelese, Andreas Teuber, in order to make a deal with him.

    Faustus Wants Mephistophelese's boss Lucifer make it possible for him to obtain knowledge that he can't get in library or collage books. For all that Faustus is more then willing to sell his soul to the Devil to get it. With Faustus signing away his soul-in blood-to Lucifer he's then given powers to go back and forth in time and do anything he wants, by being invisible, to insult and humiliate those in power without fear of reprisals. As an extra bonus Fasutus has Mephistophelese become his personal gofer or guide to do anything his ask asks no question asked even make a complete fool of himself! The punch-line in all this shenanigans on Fasutus' part is that after a scant 24 years he'll be forced to go down under, to where the sun don't shine, to spend the rest of eternity shoveling coal and God knows what else for his now lord and master Lucifer.

    Richard Burton really has the run of the place in him not only staring but directing and producing the movie by having all the great lines and acts in it. Letting his hair down Burton as Doc. Faustus does a number of really hilarious wind-breaking or flatulent as well as pie trowing scenes-at the expense of the Pope and Collage of Cardinals no less-that had me, by laughing non-stop, almost go into asthmatic shock! I doubt that even the three stooges Soupy Sales or the Ritz Brothers could top Burton's outrageous antics in the film and he's not even a comedian!

    We also get to see Burton's gorgeous wife Elizeabth Taylor who looked like she dropped some 20 to 30 pounds, from what she looked like in her previous films, for the part-or parts- she played in "Doctor Faustus" one of them being Helen of Troy. Even though she never uttered a single word Mrs. Taylor/Burton stole every scene she was in just by being in them with her revealing and sexy outfits. One of which she was dressed up to look like the Eiffel Tower with metallic or silver paint covering her entire body except for her heavenly lavender eyes.

    the very unsurprising ending has the old Doc Faustus descend down to, for use of a better word, the Hot Corner-and it ain't 3rd base- together with his guide Mephistophelese to meet the big man himself Ol' Lucifer and give up his eternal soul for all the fun he provided Faustus over the last 24 years. With nothing but fire and brimstone to look forward to as well as never again seeing and making love to the eye popping beautiful Helen of Troy, whom he fell in love with, Doc Fatstus begins to wonder if, selling his soul to the Devil, was really all that worth it!
  • The movie was one I watched because I was doing some project on it and found the movie at the library. So when I checked it out, I hoped to find a stunning movie about a man and his immortal love. Instead, I was distracted by wild images and scene changes. The plot line was choppy, and was not easy to follow. The end was disappointing. Overall, I rate this movie a three out of ten. It's just not worth it. The actors were good, but even the famous actors and actresses did not make this move a success. Although, I must admit, some of the most famous quotes did come from this movie--"Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss!" I overestimated how much I would like this film. A nice history lesson but no movie in my opinion.
  • I saw this movie donkeys years ago, and was captured by it. In my book Richard Burton can do no wrong, and this is no exception. E Taylor added a nice bit of fluff as Fausts love interest, (how ironic). The movie was very deep and thought provoking, I would highly recommend it to any one with literary appreciation. I appreciated the fact that it was done in black and white, it just added to the Gothic nature of the movie. I found the special effects also quite appropriate, (the worms in the skull, etc). This is indeed a classic movie, and I will make every effort to add it to my collection. In the mean time I would invite anyone who loves a good classic drama to hunt out this fine, old film
  • This was a film I saw in my youth on late night television. It made quite an impression on me due to the power of Richard Burton's performance. Looking back after viewing the DVD, it seems like something the Burton's would have cooked up over a long holiday weekend. This was a great film for Richard Burton's ego. After all, he's in most of the scenes. Elizabeth Taylor seems strangely out of place as Helen of Troy and the effects of years of alcohol abuse caused her appearance to be seriously frayed at the edges. Still, this is a fun film that get's a watch from me about every five years. I particularly enjoyed Andres Truber's Portrayal of Mephistopheles. He is quite believable as the somewhat penitent fallen angel. The seven deadly sins sequence always gets a hardy laugh from me. The character of Lechery looks like a poofed up drag queen. The ending is quite dramatic and the delivery o the lines by Burton are indeed quite effective.
  • In medieval garb, scholarly Richard Burton (as Doctor Faustus) sells his soul to Lucifer (David McIntosh) in exchange for knowledge denied ordinary mortal men, visitations with a beautifully mute Elizabeth Taylor (with a body double), and Satanic servant Andreas Teuber (as Mephistopheles). ...and, other things, as needed. The deal with the devil is guaranteed to keep Mr. Burton successful and satisfied for twenty-four years. But, he is not happy. In fact, Burton seems to immediately know he's made a terrible mistake.

    Tick tock, tick tock. After some interminable moments, Burton fully realizes the error of his ways. He exclaims, "The stars move still, time runs, the clock will strike, the devil will come!"

    "And, Faustus must be damned!" Burton begs for forgiveness, alongside his life-sized crucifix.

    "See where Christ's blood streams in the firmament! One drop would save my soul!"

    Will God lift him up, or pull him down?

    This must have been THE film to inspire the critical disdain foisted upon Elisabeth Taylor and Richard Burton for the remainder of their artistic partnership (for better and for worse). And, it truly is "Bloody Awful!" The movie looks like somebody gave "film student" Burton the assignment to shoot Christopher Marlow's "Doctor Faustus" for his final, with an itemized list of materials to employ. He was to allowed use his classmates, professors, wife, and a cat in the play. He should have claimed he was allergic to cats.

    Possibly, this film would "Pass" on a kindly professor's scale, but it isn't worthy as a mainstream movie, which is how it seems to have been promoted. As product from two stars who were both listed in the 1967 Quigley Poll of "Top 10 Box Office Stars" (Taylor at #2, Burton at #9), it probably puzzled ticket purchasers. And, it's not the idea or material that sinks this production, it's the rampant and garish shoddiness. Yet, you can see Burton's love for the material, and Mr. Teuber is very good in his supporting role.

    ** Doctor Faustus (10/10/67) Richard Burton, Nevill Coghill ~ Richard Burton, Andreas Teuber, Elizabeth Taylor, Ian Marter
  • The up-side to 1967's Doctor Faustus was that throughout the entire course of the film Elizabeth Taylor didn't utter one, single word. Whew! What a relief that was!

    In Doctor Faustus, Elizabeth Taylor was strictly there as eye-candy, just an over made-up piece of very pretty decoration. That's all.

    But, then, on the down-side of Doctor Faustus, actor Richard Burton, that loud, bellowing alcoholic, never shuts his trap for even 5 seconds. Sheesh! You can bet that Burton's incessant yattering all but made up for Taylor's ludicrous silence.

    I won't tell you why Taylor never talked throughout the entire course of the film. All I'll say is that she played the character of "Helen of Troy" and that apparently had something to do with it. (You go figure)

    In some ways Doctor Faustus was an interesting enough production. There were certainly plenty of fascinating and bizarre set designs. And the make-up effects were quite impressive. But, all in all, Doctor Faustus was a film that completely lacked any soul, which, is sort of ironic when you consider that its story was all about a man who actually sold his soul to the devil.

    Set in 16th Century Germany, Doctor Faustus, a brilliant scholar at Wittenberg University, employs the magic of necromancy to conjure up the evil Mephistopheles from the absolute depths of Hell. Through the assistance of this wicked spirit, Faustus bargains away his soul to Lucifer in exchange for 24 years of youth, invincibility, and unlimited power at his complete disposal.

    Faustus willingly signs this pact (with its exclusive "no-escape" clause) using his own blood and, soon enough, Mephistopheles reveals to him the works of the Devil, otherwise known as "The 7 Deadly Sins".

    I think that you really need to be a completely devoted, die-hard "Taylor & Burton" fan to actually appreciate Doctor Faustus any more than I did.
  • RICHARD BURTON gets to tear the scenery to pieces as DOCTOR FAUSTUS, directing himself into a frenzy of stylized theatrical acting as though he didn't know the camera would magnify his every over-sized movement.

    Fortunately, ELIZABETH TAYLOR is only allowed to parade her beauteous face before the close-up cameras without uttering a word. Only toward the end does she have to shriek like a mad woman as Faustus loses his soul to hell.

    But Burton's histrionics are on display and I doubt whether Charles Laughton or Peter Ustinov ever indulged in such extravagant overacting. His performance is a spectacle in itself.

    And unfortunately, the other cast members are almost mute by comparison, none of them exhibiting anything more than amateurish acting.

    The sometimes imaginative staging is pretty to look at, but none of it manages to stir up more than a modicum of interest. It's all done up in garish Technicolor with sets that look as though the low budget was put to efficient use.

    Summing up: In my humble opinion, a weird sort of bomb, totally lacking any sort of entertainment value.
  • gridoon20 July 2001
    Richard Burton's wildly misconceived, overly stylized variation on the Faust legend completely misses the essence of the myth; it's somewhere buried under the loads of bizarre images and incomprehensible soliloquies. The result is an abomination (and a curio!). (*1/2)
  • I was so astonished to see Marlowe's 400 year old play done so superbly by Richard Burton whom I consider to be one of the finest actors of the 20th century and the wonderful production which held your interest throughout, the other actors were terrific, especially the actor who played Mephistopholis, Now we come to Miss Elizabeth Taylor who played Helen Of Troy- Beauty Miss Taylor had in abundance but for some reason she had on so much eye make-up she looked laughable, surely Helen was a natural beauty - another silly thing was the fact that whenever Miss Taylor appeared she was accompanied by a soprano who sang extremely loud and sang the theme from Star Trek..
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A literary horror film--that sounds like an absurd concept, but Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, and the Leonard Nimoy-like Andreas Teuber bring it off. The most striking aspect of Dr. Faustus are the surprisingly good special effects. The atmosphere, music, and colors combine in an hallucinogenic mix. Yes, it's stagey, as expected, but it flows well nonetheless; the erudite dialogue enhancing the forlorn creepiness.

    I agree with those who mention that Taylor's make-up is overdone in some scenes. She hardly needs artificial means to look sexy and alluring. It's remarkable that her character loses nothing despite having no dialogue; a good counterpoint to Faustus and Mephistopheles's learned verbal jousting. I even appreciate the copious amounts of Latin; I could scope out some of it, and, in general, it added to the Medieval luster.

    There's a lot going on here, both visually and intellectually. As others have noted, Teuber's description of hell is a sort of existentialist view of the human condition; Burton's desire to sell his soul has an escapist undertone, like a person on drugs. Like an addict, Burton/Faustus can't get enough hedonistic pleasures. But he has to ultimately 'come down,' literally down to hell.

    The ending is perhaps the best scene: hell swallows Faustus up a in a claustrophobic dungeon. Sensual pleasures become scenes of torture and madness. In another macabre scene, this time near the beginning, Burton comes upon a sort of desecrated altar in a hideous forest--the definition of haunted. At the other extreme, watching he and Teuber floating in space among the stars is beautiful, majestic. The rotting corpses are very effective, especially as they shift from dismal images of death to the horrid, all too real depictions of decay.

    The movie is entertaining enough with the relentless parade of horror; there's also the horrible inner tension, as Faustus continues to doubt his switch of allegiance from God to the Devil. One sort of hopes that he will come back to God. He nearly does. It's interesting that God will forgive him, and take him back; but the devil won't give him up without retribution.

    It's good that the generally obnoxious scene at the Papal court ultimately turns dark; this comic interlude disrupts the tone, as though being in league with the devil is a harmless prank. Faustus's trickster ability is much better handled when he exposes the Emperor's knight as a cuckhold.

    I must admit I haven't read the original play; I read Goethe's Faust many years ago for a class, but I'm not that familiar with the Faust myth/story. Anyway, a thoroughly enjoyable film for fans of classic horror, and even for those into classic literature. Where else can you hear that fine medievalism from no less a luminary than the Holy Roman Emperor, when he speaks of Faustus's powers as "cunning arts"?
  • ags1236 November 2015
    Don't ask me about the plot - I couldn't make heads nor tails of it. Rather than trying to decipher what they're saying (a surefire exercise in futility) watch this film only if you're intent on viewing the Burtons' every collaboration. This one competes with "Hammersmith Is Out" and "Boom" as the worst. Sets look recycled from Hammer Studio horror outings. Special effects are primitive and cheesy. Efforts to tie this 16th century gabfest to the swingin' sixties include throwing in some awkward nudity. On the plus side are Richard Burton's mellifluous voice and Elizabeth Taylor's still-beautiful face, captured here prior to the John Warner years, when she let herself go before re-emerging in the 1980s surgically restored to her rightful place as the most beautiful woman ever to grace the silver screen.
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